The American flag means many things to many people, and that’s why we honor it in so many ways throughout the year. But how do you properly care for an American flag? When does it need to be replaced? How can you dispose of one in a respectful way? In this article, we look at the history of flags and their importance, what differentiates them from other types of fabrics, and how to care for your flags properly so they’ll last longer. We also share tips on disposing of flags when they are no longer appropriate to display.
The History of Old Glory
There are a few stories surrounding the history of the American flag, most of which stem from Betsy Ross. According to popular legend, Ross suggested sewing 13 stars into the shape of a circle so that it would be easier for seamstresses to stitch. When asked about the origin of Old Glory, Vice President Thomas Marshall said in 1882 that Ross made up the design for our country’s flag. At any rate, Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as our official flag on June 14, 1777—the same year we declared independence from Great Britain. The stripes have changed five times since then; they were originally 13 stars arranged in alternating rows of four or five.
How to fly the flag correctly
Before you display an American flag, it’s important to know how to fly it correctly. Here are a few things to keep in mind before hoisting Old Glory up your flagpole: The blue field should always be on top, towards your house. When flown at night, ensure that it is illuminated by a spotlight. Never allow the flag to touch the ground, and fly it above any other flag you may have on the flagpole.
To prevent damage to your flag, it is important to know how to care for it properly. Keep your flag clean and folded neatly — into a triangle, with the union (blue section) showing — before storing it in a dry and well-ventilated space. If the flag is no longer suitable for use, please dispose of it with dignity.
When and how should you retire a flag?
According to the U.S. Flag Code, the time for an American flag to be retired may come when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display. At that point, it should be disposed of in a respectful manner, often by burning. If you want to retire your flag yourself, it is important to burn the flag in a fire large enough and with a high enough intensity to ensure complete burning. During the process, people will pay respect to the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and spend a moment in silent reflection. Afterwards, the ashes of the flag should be buried. You’re not feeling up to the task of properly retiring your flag? Bring it to your nearest flag disposal box.
Flag Retirement Drop Boxes
Our drop boxes make it easy to support our nation’s history while also making sure we don’t litter or disrespect what our flag stands for. American Security Cabinets partners with Eagle Scouts and VFWs to give communities around the country a place to retire their worn flags. As a Scout works towards Eagle Scout status, donating flag disposal kiosks to their communities can be a part of their work. It’s a beautiful tradition—the ultimate way to honor our national emblem.